Beds, Herts & Bucks

Bookmakers robbed: Spray attacker gets six-years jail

Ammonia spray attack Image copyright sbna
Image caption Darren Starkey sprayed a cashier's eyes with ammonia and she feared going blind

A man who sprayed ammonia into the eyes of a cashier at a Hertfordshire betting shop has been jailed for six years.

Darren Starkey, 51, admitted the attack on the woman at a shop in Bishop's Stortford, where he made off with £150 to £200.

He also admitted possessing an offensive weapon and threatening a cashier with a knife in another robbery at a bookmakers in Clacton, Essex.

St Albans Crown Court heard Starkey had a gambling problem.

He was given an "extended" sentence after pleading guilty to the attack at a Coral bookmakers in Bishop's Stortford in May and the earlier robbery at another betting shop in Clacton.

In the first attack he got away with £1,000 from the till after threatening the lone woman cashier behind the counter with a knife.

Two weeks later, 29 May, he used the ammonia and water mixture and made off with between £150 and £200 from the Bishop's Stortford shop.

Starkey, who is homeless, had been "down on his luck" and had no money, the court was told.

In a letter to the judge, Starkey said he had never done anything like it in his life and would never do it again.

The woman who had ammonia sprayed in her eyes had been left terrified that she would be blinded, the court was told.

Recorder Leslie Cuthbert told Starkey he had planned the crimes and would serve a six-year jail term followed by three years on probation.

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